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FAQs About Competency Profiling

We are often asked questions about competency profiles and how to create them. In this blog post, we answer four of the most common questions about competency profiling.

Q: What are competency profiles and what is competency profiling?

A: Competency profiles are essentially the collection of competencies, including their associated behaviours, needed to be successful in a role. Competency profiling is the structured method you use to build these profiles and determine which competencies are critical for successful performance in a role.

Q: Who should be responsible for deciding which competencies are needed for a role?

A: You will need subject matter experts (SMEs) to select the competencies. SMEs should have a deep understanding of the requirements of the role(s). They should be representative and fully cover all aspects of the role(s) you are profiling (i.e., geography, function, years of experience, etc.). They should also be credible and respected within the organization, in order to build more buy-in for the initiative.

Q: Which method should I use to select competencies for a role?

A: The approach you choose will depend on who and where your subject matter experts are located. You could send out a survey that asks the SMEs to select the competencies. This can be a great choice when you have SMEs in different locations. You can also hold a focus group (in-person or virtually) with a smaller group of SMEs. This is a great approach to build consensus and can help to make the process more efficient. You can also interview a SME one-on-one. This works well when you have one all-knowing SME and few people in a role, or if the SME’s opinion is important for ensuring buy-in.

Q: What is the difference between a job description and a competency profile?

A: A job description outlines the responsibilities and tasks for a job, the educational and experience requirements, and often the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies needed for successful performance. This job description focusses on the requirements for one specific job like a cyber security analyst, HR generalist, or an account manager. A competency profile focusses on the specific behaviours needed to be successful in a role and can be included within the job description. This means that you do not need to build a competency profile for every single job in your organization. You may have one competency profile that applies to multiple jobs. For example, you might have a competency profile for a vulnerability and threat assessment analyst that applies to the following three jobs: cyber controls assurance analyst, security specialist, and cyber security analyst. You would only need one profile as the behaviours or competencies needed for successful performance are the same. By focusing on roles, you can make the competency profiling process much more manageable and efficient.

To learn more about integrating competencies into your talent management programs (e.g., hiring, learning and development, career pathing), check out our Using Competencies for HR Toolkit!